A law change is going to Parliament to allow Department of Conservation wildlife rangers to arrest people suspected of smuggling, poaching or endangering protected native wildlife in some way.
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry is introducing the Wildlife (Powers) Amendment Bill to reform the 60-year-old Wildlife Act and give warranted DOC rangers new powers when they encounter offences.
Those powers would also include the ability to:
• Take action to prevent an offence in progress or about to occur
• Temporarily stop people suspected of an offence to allow investigation
• Seize evidence such as laptops, cameras and mobile phones
• And require suspected offenders to supply their identification details.
Ms Barry says "The (1953) Act's enforcement powers haven't been updated for 60 years and, in many cases, are hopelessly out of date, making it more difficult for these hard-working DOC staff to do their jobs."
The Green Party's Eugenie Sage is giving qualified support to the proposed legislation but says the Conservation Department needs to be adequately funded and resourced to enforce the new powers.
The law change does not alter current powers for Fish and Game officers to carry out their duties to protect sports fish, such as trout, and game like ducks and geese.